Barbie Meets the Sock
Using a Sock with RealClothes CD Patterns.


 One of the challenges of sewing for Barbie and Ken is finding the right fabrics: not stiff or bulky, preferably with stretch, an appropriate weight, and with a suitably scaled pattern or texture. Then, if you want to make t-shirts, sweaters, or a bomber jacket, you need to find a matching ribbing.

One source of fabrics which meets all these requirements - with the bonus of ribbing already in place - is socks. Not all socks are suitable; some are very difficult to handle (especially textured nylon) - but some are superb. Here are some examples of fashion doll clothes from socks, and from the General Directions in Real Clothes for Fashion Dolls, some tips and techniques to make the sewing easy.

Tips and Techniques for Sewing with Socks

1. TEST on a scrap of the fabric you're working with. This is the only way you'll discover what stabilizer you need, and what stitch, length, and width work best. It's usually best to use a stitch with stretch built in when sewing knits - especially when there's going to be some stress on the stitching as the dolls are dressed and undressed.

2. Use an appropriate needle (Universal or Stretch work on most knits, and the size depends on the fabric) and thread (polyester has some stretch, is stronger than cotton- but metallics or rayon for trim, or for lettuce edging, might be nice!). 

3. Use a tear-away stabilizer under the fabric (I usually try onionskin paper first - sometimes 2 layers). For extra support, pin the garment piece(s) to the stabilizer, and if you still get stretch or bubbling from the presser foot, put a layer of see-through wash-away stabilizer on top of the fabric. In really stubborn cases, starch or stabilize with a liquid wash-out stabilizer.

4. Hold on to your thread ends when you start stitching!!!!! Saves digging the remains of the garment out of the needle-hole.

5. Use a wash-out fabric basting glue (stick or liquid) to hold tiny hems in place. Shape curves (neck, aarmhole) by pinning to an empty plastic bottle of an appropriate diameter; glue, turn hem, pin and let dry before stitching. The glue acts as an additional stabilizer, and the bottle might be useful for keeping the garment in shape while it dries after you've washed out the glue.

6. Use a suitable presser foot. A straight-stitch foot and plate will give you the best straight stitches; try other feet to see which gives the best fabric support for zig-zag or stretch stitches.

7. Press as you go! Essential for shaping ribbing. Use a tennis ball, or a padded wooden ball, or dowels, as mini hams. Carefully used steam, followed by a "press" with your hand, will shape nylon or other synthetic fabrics which you can't touch the iron to.

8. Cross-grain strips of knit or lycra fabrics can be used instead of ribbing.